How I Teach Art

When I need to grow as an artist, I look for teachers who listen, and open new doors just for me… but then I have to walk through them myself.
When I work with my students, I believe in everybody’s inner ability to create. It is always a dialog; gentle or astonishing, sometimes very intuitive process of finding your voice.
I have had the privilege to paint, draw, print, and build huge sculptures with young kids, teenagers, special needs artists, corporate executives, and senior citizens.
As an introvert, and someone who loves to be alone in the quiet of a studio, it does not come easy to me to stand in front of even one person, not to mention a big group.
Maybe that is why I can connect better with many shy, unsure, self-doubting “the last time I painted I was in third grade” students.
In 2011, to my amazement, I received the first Skip McKinney faculty of the year award at Indianapolis Art Center, where I work with youth and adult students.

Here are some of the recommendations they wrote for me:

It’s clear to me—and I’ve only attended four classes—that teaching painting is personal to Sofiya. She cares about us. She’s genuine when she asks us how our week went, tells us about hers and shares her delight in things that happened in her class that day… 



I enrolled in her class last fall, I had not taken any kind of art class for over 30 years!  I was more than a bit scared, but I had an overwhelming need to incorporate creativity into my life.  So, I showed up for the class and fell in love with both the Art Center and my teacher that first evening.  Sofiya helped our class (which was composed of a couple of artsy people, the rest sort of like me…) understand what could happen, appreciate the possibilities for creating, and finally, believe in our own ability to participate and ultimately create.  From the very beginning, she showed us unfailing courtesy and respect; she took interest in our lives; she coached us along the way; she showed us many, many ways to make beautiful art; she encouraged, encouraged, encouraged.